The 2016 EU referendum has already left a lasting imprint on the English language. Building on previous research (e.g. Lalić-Krstin & Silaški 2018, Buckledee 2018), the present article integrates discourse-analytical and corpus-based methods to explore current developments and place them in the historical context of the past 70 years. Using the News on the Web (NoW) corpus, which covers the years from the run-up to the referendum to the present, I will show that Brexit discourse comprises not only the neologisms inspired by the event itself, but also a number of tropes such as ‘take/want (one’s) country back’, ‘take back control’, ‘(a truly) global Britain’, and more, most of which have developed from discourses of long historical standing. This history will be explored using the Hansard Corpus, which – despite caveats articulated by Mollin ( 2007) – has proved a valuable resource for the purpose at hand. The analysis will show that at various stages since 1945, Euroscepticism has meshed both with the rhetoric of the political left and the political right and that, ultimately, the UK’s position vis à vis Europe has been negotiated in the context of massive sociocultural transformations such as the dissolution of the British Empire and the European postwar economic boom. Pro-European sentiment, which reached its peak in the 1975 referendum endorsing membership in the European Economic Community, shows Britain having overcome the collective ‘phantom pain’ following the dissolution of the British Empire and the erosion of its position as a major world power. The break-up of this pro-European consensus has revealed cultural rifts in the UK which go deeper than the immediate political and economic context of the Brexit vote.